Delta Air Lines is making progress on testing its entire workforce for COVID-19. The airline is hoping to test nearly every one of its employees to get in front of the virus and work to slow the spread among its employees and limit any transmission from its customer-facing workforce to its passengers.
What is the testing program?
Delta Air Lines had a big task on its hand when it decided to test all 75,000 of its employees. The airline views proactive, widespread testing as a way to slow the spread and limit the spread of COVID-19.
Thus far, Delta has done onsite testing in cities where it has a lot of employees based. This includes major hub airports like Atlanta, Minneapolis, and New York. The airline has also introduced an at-home testing option for all employees. This is being done through Quest Diagnostics. Quest Diagnostics will send self-collection kits directly to an employee’s home if the employee chooses to go with that form of testing.
As of writing, about half of Delta’s active employees have been tested. Thus far, the infection rate of its customer-facing employees has been lower than the national average. Still, Delta is mandating mask-wearing for its customers and crew in airports and onboard aircraft along with a full cleaning regimen for its gate areas, lounges, and planes.
Why is Delta doing the testing?
Delta views the testing program as another health measure to keep its customers safe onboard its aircraft. Joanne Smith, the airline’s Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, stated the following in a press release seen by Simple Flying:
“Our customers want to know that the people caring for them while traveling are healthy. Providing COVID-19 testing for all of our people is an important action we can take to keep employees, their families and our customers safe, increasing confidence in travel while doing our part to slow and stop the spread of the virus.”
What happens if an employee tests positive?
If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, Delta requires them to isolate at home for a minimum of ten days. During that isolation period, the employees receive full pay protections. This limits an employee’s concerns about missing out on their salary, causing them to go to work while sick and spreading the virus to any of Delta’s customers or crew.
Employees who have been exposed to others who test positive for COVID-19 will also receive full pay protection while remaining out of the workplace for 14 days from the date of exposure.
If anyone would like to get a COVID-19 antibody test, Delta is offering its employees that test free of charge at all of its major US hubs and over 2,000 Quest Diagnostic locations nationwide.
A re-testing program
While testing is excellent to identify initial problems, the pandemic is going to stick around for a while, so Delta is engaging with the Mayo Clinic to develop a re-testing strategy. A team from the Mayo Clinic will review and assess Delta’s health and safety practices, including infection prevention measures and workforce risk assessments, to help Delta install a plan that works to limit viral transmission, reduces the rate of infection, and keep its customers and crew safe.
Thus far, Delta has not announced any testing requirements for all passengers. Instead, it has required anyone looking to fly with the airline to wear an approved mask (or else undergo a pre-screening) and acknowledge that they have not tested positive or been exposed to anyone with COVID-19. In some airports, Delta is checking passengers’ temperature before departure.
What do you think about Delta’s testing program for its employees? Let us know in the comments!